Hi, we’re new! Lily and Lydia is an online publication for Christian women that was launched in July 2023. While we’re regularly adding new articles, please be patient with us as we build the site!

Hi, we’re new! Lily and Lydia is an online publication for Christian women that was launched in July 2023. While we’re regularly adding new articles, please be patient with us as we build the site!

How to Create a Gallery Wall for Less Than $100!

Jul 28, 2023 | Home, Decorating and Organizing

You’ve all seen those beautiful walls full of framed art gallery walls in magazines or on Pinterest. Here’s how to create the gallery wall of your dreams, on a budget!  I’ll share my tips, then walk you through the gallery wall I hung behind our sofa. (And I promise you don’t have to be “artsy” to pull this off.)

Here’s What you Need to Assemble Your Gallery Wall:

  • Frames
  • “Art” to put in your frames
  • Cardstock, illustration paper, or mat board (all can be found at Hobby Lobby or an art supply store)
  • Double sided tape  (I’m a faithful Scotch tape user. Make sure that the brand you use is labeled archival safe and acid free so that it doesn’t yellow and damage your art or photos over time.)
  • Picture hanging kit (This is a good one – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08H8FDK1D/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 )
  • Hammer
  • Nice to have: painters tape, a level, a tape measure
Add a little bit of body text 1 _You’ve all seen those beautiful gallery walls in magazines or on Pinterest. Here’s how to create the gallery wall of your dreams, on a budget!  I’ll share my tips, then walk you through the gallery wall I hung behind our sofa. (And I promise you don’t have to be “artsy” to pull this off.)

How to Find Frames for Your Gallery Wall

Finding the right frames can be both fun and frustrating! It took me years of on and off thrifting and bargain hunting to gather the frames for my gallery wall. The three best sources of frames for my gallery wall were thrift stores (don’t be afraid to rip out and toss any ugly mass produced junk inside the frame), sales at large craft retailers (Michaels especially), and multipacks of frames at Home Goods. If you want a less eclectic look, I recommend waiting for a doorbuster sale at a craft retailer so that you can get a quantity of identical frames.

How to Find Art to Put in your Gallery Wall Frames

There are SO many options when it comes to finding art for your frames.  I could make an even longer list but here are my favorites:

  • Travel photos or family photos – I love ordering prints from Mpix or Artifact Uprising. If you’re on a budget, order 4×6 photos and put them in larger frames.
  • Thrifted artwork
  • Vintage postcards (Etsy, Vintage shops)
  • Paper cutouts or silhouettes
  • Art prints – Purchase digital and physical art prints from Etsy, Shop Pelavida, or from craft shows
  • Pretty greeting cards (some artists also sell their prints on notecards – these are a super affordable way to collect art!)
  • A piece of fabric you love (look for fat quarters at your local quilt shop)
  • Stamps you’ve collected
  • Slim travel souvenirs (money, tickets, etc)
  • Maps of places that have sentimental value. (Purchase from Etsy or vintage shops, or download US maps from the US Geological survey and have them printed.)

How to Frame Art for your Gallery Wall

I choose to leave a healthy amount of “white space” between art and the frame.  I do this for a few reasons.  In addition to giving the eye a place to “rest” (for a less cluttered look), it allowed me to thrift both frames and art more freely because I didn’t have to worry about matching sizes exactly!

I don’t worry about the condition of the glass on thrifted frames – I actually prefer to leave the glass out of a lot of my frames on purpose so that there wouldn’t be a glare covering my art!

I use a matting process called the “lazy and cheap” method!  Instead of buying standard or custom beveled mats, I just use double sided tape to adhere my art on top of a piece of cardstock, illustration paper, or mat board.  All can be found at a good craft store. (I know Hobby Lobby sells all three.)  I use cardstock for anything 8.5×11 or less and matboard or illustration paper for the larger stuff.  Matboard is thick and tricky to cut.  I use an xacto knife and scissors to score then cut it.  I use my paper trimmer (leftover from my scrapbooking days) for all of the small stuff.

How to Hang your Gallery Wall

There are SO many ingenious hacks out there for laying out your gallery wall perfectly and if you already have all your frames collected, I’m sure they’re very helpful! I took a more relaxed, collected approach.  I hung one “key” frame near the center, then continued to build outward as I tracked down frames and art I loved. Regardless of which direction you go, it’s worth measuring and leveling!  Even then, I’ve had to move and remove a hook, or ten.

Part of the reason for my relaxed approach is that behind my pretty gallery wall are six awkward niches in the drywall that were off center thanks to the placement of the HVAC and our bedroom door.  The only photo I could find is from back in 2013 when I thought crooked photos were cool. We live in an apartment, so the niches can’t be filled in and they limited both the frame size and the placement of the frames.

IMG 0237 _You’ve all seen those beautiful gallery walls in magazines or on Pinterest. Here’s how to create the gallery wall of your dreams, on a budget!  I’ll share my tips, then walk you through the gallery wall I hung behind our sofa. (And I promise you don’t have to be “artsy” to pull this off.)

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Tips for an Outstanding Gallery Wall

The most overlooked gallery wall rule?  Keep your frames close together!  No more than two inches apart.  On a very large wall, 3 inches is ok as long as the frames are large.  If all of your frames are very small (less than a sheet of copy paper), stick to 1-1.5” in between frames.

Your gallery wall can be as organized or as eclectic as you want it to be.  My personal decor style is VERY eclectic.  I thrive in chaos and dislike when things match (at least in my own space.)  This influenced the choices I made in artwork and frames.  To make things more cohesive, use one color of frame, use more same sized frames, or limit the color palette of the art itself.

Don’t be afraid to add more than one item to the same frame! I love framing sets of postcards!

If you’re mixing frame finishes (like wood and gold), try to distribute the colors evenly throughout the gallery wall.  I didn’t do a super great job of that with mine, in part due to the aforementioned awkward niches in the drywall.

Frame by Frame Tour of my Current Gallery Wall for More Inspiration

For context, I’m originally from New Hampshire, so that’s why there’s so much New England themed art on my walls! I did ask my husband if there was anything he wanted on the wall and he said no!

IMG 6178 _You’ve all seen those beautiful gallery walls in magazines or on Pinterest. Here’s how to create the gallery wall of your dreams, on a budget!  I’ll share my tips, then walk you through the gallery wall I hung behind our sofa. (And I promise you don’t have to be “artsy” to pull this off.)

Top left to bottom right:

  • Vintage photograph mounted on green velvet in a thrifted frame
  • Vintage New Hampshire postcard on cardstock in a thrifted frame
  • Photo of our first date in a thrifted frame
  • New Hampshire map downloaded for free from the US Geological Survey and printed at Office Max, framed in a Belmont Frame from Michaels
  • Horse cut out of scrapbook paper and mounted on a piece of mat board in a thrifted frame
  • Photo I took of the Maine seacoast on mat board in a thrifted frame.
  • Three vintage postcards on foam board in a thrifted frame
  • Wedding photo of us in a thrifted frame
IMG 6181 _You’ve all seen those beautiful gallery walls in magazines or on Pinterest. Here’s how to create the gallery wall of your dreams, on a budget!  I’ll share my tips, then walk you through the gallery wall I hung behind our sofa. (And I promise you don’t have to be “artsy” to pull this off.)

Top Left to Bottom Right:

  • Wedding Photo of us in a thrifted frame
  • Thrifted art print. I believe this is the frame I found it in!
  • A page we were gifted from a very very old Bible. The frame was a more expensive one from Hobby Lobby.
  • Map of Madison, Wisconsin, which is where we live now.
  • Blue Willow transferware plate – my grandma collected them and I’m working on my own collection. I thrifted the platehangers also.
  • Owl artist notecard on cardstock in a thrifted frame
  • An original painting by @aspencreekart based on a photo I took in Wyoming, on cardstock in another Belmont frame from Michaels. (Yes, this painting was comparatively a splurge. While you could absolutely pull a wall like this together for $100 or less, this painting was totally worth it and I didn’t think twice about investing in it!)
  • Hidden by the lamp: A photo I took on Martha’s Vineyard (an island off Massachusetts), in a thrifted frame.
  • River scene print on a notecard from a local artist on cardstock in a thrifted frame.
  • Lake scene print on a notecard from a New Hampshire artist on cardstock in a thrifted frame.
  • Two small plates that were meant to be hung and already had holes on the back. (Thrifted.)
IMG 6172 _You’ve all seen those beautiful gallery walls in magazines or on Pinterest. Here’s how to create the gallery wall of your dreams, on a budget!  I’ll share my tips, then walk you through the gallery wall I hung behind our sofa. (And I promise you don’t have to be “artsy” to pull this off.)

Last but not least, it’s ok if your gallery wall takes time.  The gallery wall in my living room has been a work in progress since 2015.  It’s also ok to never consider it finished!  Here’s what my wall looked like in 2015 for reference. I had just started the process of tracking down frames that would fit over those silly niches. (And I was REALLY into blue and gold.) Our lives have seasons and our decor can too!

IMG 1797 _You’ve all seen those beautiful gallery walls in magazines or on Pinterest. Here’s how to create the gallery wall of your dreams, on a budget!  I’ll share my tips, then walk you through the gallery wall I hung behind our sofa. (And I promise you don’t have to be “artsy” to pull this off.)
LL author bio shots _You’ve all seen those beautiful gallery walls in magazines or on Pinterest. Here’s how to create the gallery wall of your dreams, on a budget!  I’ll share my tips, then walk you through the gallery wall I hung behind our sofa. (And I promise you don’t have to be “artsy” to pull this off.)

Amy Lawson is a photographer, creative, and the editor of Lily & Lydia.  When she’s not turning hobbies into businesses, Amy enjoys spending time with family, reading, crafting, and planning future travels.  She currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband Brian.

2 Comments

  1. Ashley

    This was exactly what I needed. I’ve been wanting to put together a gallery wall in our home and this is will be I helpful!!

    Reply
  2. Rosie

    Loved reading about how to create a gallery wall and Amy’s encouraging spin on not having to have it complete or perfect right away. I definitely gathered super helpful tips for putting up frames in my first apartment!

    Reply

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